Sustainable rPET strapping is another boost for plastic recycling in SA. In a growing industry shift towards sustainable packaging and product design, one of South Africa’s largest manufacturers of wood-based products, PG Bison, has decided to use only locally sourced and recycled polyethylene terephthalate (rPET) strapping.

rPET is the acronym for an extremely versatile and sophisticated plastic that is used to make the most common container in the soft drink market today: the plastic bottle.

Recycling is the most simple way of keeping plastic waste out of the environment. Credit: Petco

According to PG Bison’s chief executive officer, Gerhard Victor, the company uses 9.1 million metres of plastic strapping a year to bind its wooden surfacing and decorative panel products, with the recycled rPET material set to divert the equivalent of five million post-consumer plastic bottles or 115t of PET from landfills every year.

Instead of importing its signature green strapping from Italy, Victor says PG Bison will now source the local equivalent from Cape Town-based supplier Propet, which uses locally sourced post-consumer PET bottles in its manufacturing process.

PET Recycling Company (PETCO) chief executive Cheri Scholtz says the move is a boon for keeping plastic waste out of the environment. She says it is encouraging that industry is starting to see the bigger vision and economic value inherent in the recycling of PET.

“Nationally, the recycling rate for PET plastic is a significant +60% a year and comprises mainly clear and blue plastic bottles, which are more feasible to transform into a range of recycled materials including polyester fibre.

“What is exciting about rPET strapping is that it can be made from green plastic bottles, which have had a limited end-use market to date. As other manufacturers make the switch to locally sourced rPET strapping, like PG Bison has done, we’ll be able to make better use of coloured plastic and grow our overall recycling rates even further,” says Scholtz.

Victor says recycled strapping now conforms to stringent technical specifications, such as high tensile strength, and, most importantly, maintains the product stack integrity during handling and transportation.

“At PG Bison, we use strapping on almost every product that we manufacture. Because our wood is locally, responsibly and sustainably sourced, it is important for us to extend this approach to the packaging of our products too,” explains Victor.

“For safety reasons, the strapping is single-use, but it can be recycled after collection.”

Propet director Chandru Wadhwani says a responsible approach by more players in the manufacturing sector would assist the plastics industry to fulfil its extended producer responsibility and drive PET recycling rates in South Africa.

“As we have often witnessed, without willing users of products made from rPET, we would leave behind far more PET bottles destined for landfills and oceans,” says Wadhwani.

Wadhwani adds that the new production line for Pro-10 Strap™ featured the same European technology, by SIMA, used by strapping manufacturers worldwide.

“As such, quality requirements from customers like PG Bison will be met comfortably and, in some instances, surpassed. With its ISO accreditation, it also provides improved traceability and assurance of quality.”

He adds that this is another example of helping companies to meet their Extended Producer Responsibility objectives through the recycled PET value chain without compromising quality.